The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan announced today that a federal lawsuit has been filed against a Dearborn, Michigan high school, Fordson High School, and its Muslim principal, Imad Fadlallah, over the firing of Gerald Marszalek because of Marszalek’s connection to a Christian volunteer coach.
Marszalek, who had coached wrestling for 35 years, had achieved a legendary status in the wrestling community. Earning more that 450 wins, and sending numerous wrestlers to various collegiate programs, he was elected to the Michigan High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame, named “Sportsman of the Year” by the All-American Athletic Association. Marszalek’s contract was not renewed because of his association with a Christian volunteer coach, Trey Hancock, who the principal accused of converting a Muslim student to Christianity during a summer camp not connected with the school or Coach Marszalek.
The lawsuit was filed by the Thomas More Law Center, and a private litigation firm of Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, P.L.C. located in Livonia, Michigan. [Read Complaint here.]
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, “We are getting a glimpse of what happens when Muslims who refuse to accept American values and principles gain political power in an American community. Failure to renew coach Marszalek’s contract had nothing to do with wrestling and everything to do with religion.”
The city of Dearborn is one of the most densely populated Muslim communities in the United States. An estimated 30,000 of its 98,000 residents are Muslims. It is estimated that 80% of the student population of Fordson High School is Arabic and most of those are Muslims. According to the lawsuit, Fadlallah has publically stated that he sees Fordson High School as a Muslim school.
Trouble started between Fadlallah and Marszalek when one of Coach Marszalek’s assistant coaches, Trey Hancock, held a summer wrestling camp in which a Muslim camper converted to Christianity. Principal Fadlallah was so upset by the conversion that he punched the student and informed him he had disgraced his family. Fadlallah also ordered Coach Marszalek to ban the assistant coach from the high school and all wrestling events. However, since the assistant had a son that wrestled on the team, this was an impossible order to enforce. After the wrestling season was over, Coach Marszalek was not allowed to reapply to his coaching position—in clear violation of Union rules. Unfortunately for Coach Marszalek, his teacher’s Union did not help him in his hour of need.
The lawsuit claims violations of both the U.S. and Michigan constitutions and statutes including Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights. Coach Marszalek is seeking his back pay, injunctive and declaratory relief, damages, and to be reinstated as coach of the wrestling team.